The Legend of John Crow Batty, Jamaica’s Original Overproof Rum
As rum legends go in the Caribbean, the tale of John Crow Batty, like the bangin’ brew itself, truly stands alone.
This crazy tale begins with a crime; specifically, a robbery perpetrated on the other side of the fence pictured above. This is the entrance to the fabled rum factory on the grounds of The Hampden Estate in Trelawny, Jamaica.
Those who recall this recent post will know that they’ve been making fine rums here for generations. No matter how fine the end result may be, though, all rum spends part of its developmental journey through any distillery as a harsh colorless liquid way closer to rubbing alcohol than anything you might ever want to drink.
This is the wash, freshly distilled right out of the still; the devilish congeners that master distillers remove to spare us those nasty headaches and hangovers, still in full effect.
Doesn’t sound at all covetous, does it?
Still, it is just this very liquid, a Jamaican moonshine of sorts, that was pilfered here by a certain segment of Hampton Estate’s seemingly more nefarious Trelawny neighbors way back when.
They called it John Crow Batty because you had to have a stomach as strong as the John Crow vultures to drink it!
So says Paul Harris, managing executive at Hampden Estate and my guide during the tour I enjoyed there back in April. It was from this stolen fire water, he explained, that Jamaican overproof rum, and the various non-happy hour uses for it (christenings, warding off evil spirits, medicine, weddings, etc.) evolved.
It was also with a nod to the grand old tradition of John Crow Batty that Hampden Estate developed its fantastic Rum Fire overproof, though as you can read here, a supremely iron stomach isn’t required to enjoy this distinctively aromatic beauty…
More on Rum Fire and Hampden Estate here.